Feature

New Brunswick’s Fiddlehead Caskets Return Nature to Nature

FREDERICTON–Jeremy Burrill takes the saying “simple pine box” seriously. The Red Seal certified cabinet maker has left behind his original trade to create basic but well-crafted caskets with local lumber and no metal parts.

Burrill first decided to change directions a couple months ago when a family member of his went through the planning of funerals for her father and close uncle.

“She was telling me there was nothing really that would have suited either one of those guys, given the existing casket options at the funeral homes,” he said. “These guys were both pretty natural, simple, kind of regular guys. They didn’t really feel there was anything there that spoke to either one of their personalities. They wanted something that was nice but simple.”

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Burrill says funeral homes don’t offer enough options for caskets and he’s filling a gap between the plain and the gaudy. The solution he has designed is a simple casket crafted with a great amount of care that can be used for burial or cremation.

Fiddlehead caskets also aims to comply with the green burial movement that is slowly spreading in Canada. Burrill says caskets on the market now are made with too many elements that don’t break down, including metals, finishing chemicals, lacquers, stains and polyester fabrics.

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Jeremy Burrill at work

“It’s just unnecessary,” he says. “It’s because it’s what they’ve always done. That’s part of the reason why this green movement is coming up, because people are saying this doesn’t make any sense. Why are we doing this?”

Fiddlehead caskets strip away all the inessential elements and put a fully natural and reasonably priced alternative either in the ground or through the cremation process.

Burrill hopes to spread awareness about his alternative caskets throughout the Maritimes in the coming months. He’s reaching out to funeral homes as well as the general public to make them aware that his product is ready and available. He hopes people will want something different and help encourage funeral home owners to move away from tradition a bit. Burrill also plans to develop a line of cremation urns and reach farther into central Canada and the eastern US.

“There have been some who don’t see why someone would want to do this because what they’ve been doing has been working for the last forty years,” Burrill says. “When I talked to some they’re just immediately like ‘yep, this is great.’ … It’s a new kind of idea so it might be a little bit before we get people on our side.”